Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Home From Home June 18 2007

We love our tent. Which is lucky really as it's our only source of refuge at the end of another interminable day's hauling. It gives us warmth, respite and a feeling of control in the face of elements that conspire quickly to strip you of life if you have no shelter.

We'll be sleeping in a dead plush Hilleberg Keron GT tent (below). These tents have more polar pedigree than a husky pet food shop. They're seriously robust, brilliant in the wind and simple to erect when all around you is blizzardy pandemonium.
The tent is modified with the addition of snow flaps, on which snow is shovelled to keep the tent secure, the mosquito nets are removed (not much need in the Antarctic, is there), a clothes line is put in place along the central spine for drying kit. The tent poles are fixed in place and taped together into two half-sections to avoid breakage caused by failing to insert each section fully into the next. We also cover the floor with foam matting for insulation.

In addition to piling snow onto the snowflaps, the tent is secured by digging our skis and poles into the snow, sometimes completely submerged as "deadmen", and using them as anchor points for the guys.

Cooking is done at the opposite end to the entry/exit, at which we dig a knee-height trench so we can sit up whilst taking our boots on and off and doing any necessary maintenance or repairs.

You'll see in the picture below that I'm wearing a headtorch. This was during training in Norway (in horrible conditions - hence all the wet clothes hanging up in the tent). We won't need these down South due to the 24 hour sunlight. We'll be swapping them for good quality eye masks instead.

Happy Camper
Another indispensable item for life in the tent, is a good pair of tent booties. These are basically heavily insulated tent slippers which keep our feet warm inside the tent, can be worn outside for brief sorties and generally relieve our feet of the bulk and strain of our skiing boots. Ours are supplied by Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Canada and they're a joy – light, dead toasty and just a total relief to put on at the end of the day.

As for the call of nature, we each have a pee bottle for when we're caught short in the night. I've been very careful to source orange nalgene (a robust, transparent plastic) bottles for this. None of our drinking bottles are orange, which should stop any unfortunate drinking from the, er, wrong bottle. If not, well that's polar recycling for you.

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